Looking at history, should the Wild be worried about Thomas Vanek's future?


Wild forward Thomas Vanek wasn't making any excuses for his less than stellar playoff performance during the Wild's postseason run.

Vanek didn't score a goal in the postseason for Minnesota, and he has now been held without a goal in 17 straight playoff games. The slump goes back to last season when Vanek, who was with Montreal – was shut out in the Eastern Conference Finals – against the New York Rangers.

After a slow start to this season, Vanek seemed to get things going in the second half of the year, finishing with 52 points (21 goals, 31 assists) on the season. But that came to a sudden halt in the playoffs.

"It wasn't great, I didn't score a goal," Vanek told reporters Monday. "When you don't produce and you lose, you're going to take some heat. I am not going to make excuses why, I should have been better."

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Vanek signed a three-year $19.5 million contract with the Wild to return to Minnesota prior to the season. He played his college hockey at the University of Minnesota and won a National Championship in 2003 with the Gophers.

ESPN 1500 notes that it wasn't always a happy homecoming for Vanek, He was criticized at times during the season for appearing to coast during shifts and for a reluctance to shoot.

But there could be more that might concern the Wild about Vanek's future during the final two years of his contract.

According to a CBS Sports report, players like Vanek, whose primary skill is scoring goals, hit their "peak" far earlier in their NHL careers than most people realize.

The report notes that the "peak" for those players is usually between the ages of 24-26. While many remain productive into their late 20s and early-to-mid 30s, they aren't as productive as they once were.

The situation is somewhat similar to the player Vanek was brought in to replace – former Wild forward Danny Heatley.

If the Wild don't want the Heatley situation to repeat itself with Vanek, they had better hope he can turn it around next season.

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